West Ham’s great former goalkeeper Phil Parkes reckons the Hammers of ’85/86 would more than have held their own in today’s Premier League.
Phil remains a regular at Upton Park where he works the hospitality areas on match days and has spoken at length to Claretandhugh about the game now and then.
And he said: “Of course things have changed enormously but I have no doubt that team in particular would have more than held its own today. We had great, quality players.
“There was Alan Devonshire in there for starters, Frankie , ‘Mac,’ TC, Ray Stewart and Alvin Martin – who could say we wouldn’t have been a force. I know we would have been
“There were topy players all over the place; Alan Dickens, Mark Ward Neil Orr, and decent back-up squad players.”
Parkes remembers Devonshire with particular delight saying: “What a player he was. He could skip through the mud and the awful grounds we had to play on back then at times.
“He would have been an absolute sensation on the billiard table top surfaces of the Premier League – how he would have loved that.”
He shakes his head with nostalgic awe declaring: “What a player, what a player. Unforgettable.”
But it wasn’t always that way and he remembers a game soon after he arrived in 1979 from QPR.
He said: I remember John McDowell and Frank Lampard (snr) were my full backs and they both turned up on the same wing with forwards running amok everyone.
“I recall thinking to myself: ‘Blimey what have I walked into here but John Lyall sorted it out and we built towards that tremendous season.
He laughed: “However, those of us who remember the ‘pure football’ days and what they called the ‘West Ham Way ‘ sometimes involved defending where it was a case of “you score three and we’ll get four.”
And he added: “Some people criticise Sam’s approach but he always builds a very sound defensive basis and goes from there.
“It may not be everybody’s cup of tea – and I grew up a different way – but he’s done a great job over the last few years and his approach has been successful down the years hasn’t it.
“He’s bot going to change now – and why should he?”